Cobalt has been working on Melbourne’s trams since 1999, when the network was privatised. Over this time we have collaborated with Yarra Trams on a number of major projects including interior refurbishments, capacity improvements, technology upgrades, as well as design support for Melbourne’s newest tram, the E-Class. Collectively our work has re-imagined and enhanced the passenger experience and shaped the city’s visual identity.

One of these projects involved new passenger information and ticketing technologies to be fitted across the entire tram fleet. Cobalt was asked to develop a smart mechanical system that enabled new cabling to be rapidly fitted throughout the tram.

Our design allowed for trams to be fitted out with the new technology in 6 hours, rather than the industry standard of several days or weeks. This enabled the system upgrade to be rolled out without impacting passenger services.

More recently, Cobalt provided local design and CG visualisation input to Bombardier for the new Melbourne E-Class tram. This project brought greater passenger capacity and comfort, as well as returning local tram manufacturing back to Victoria for the first time in over 30 years.


  • Passenger-centred amenities and safety
  • Concealed cabling throughout tram
  • Rapid system installation
  • Vandal resistant and maintenance friendly construction and finishes
  • Iconic anchor grab handle doubles handholds for standing passengers


  • Major cabling upgrade delivered on time, without impacting operational services
  • Refurbishments directly contributed to improved passenger satisfaction levels
  • Lean seats & open areas increased peak capacity and reduced dwell times
  • CAD modelling of existing tram fleet provided faster & more accurate development
  • Bombardier selected to supply E-Class trams, returning tram manufacturing to Victoria


  • Industrial Design
  • Vehicle Styling
  • Alias (CAD) surface modelling
  • Mechanical Design
  • FEA
  • Product Engineering
  • Prototyping
  • Installation assistance
  • Project, Production and Budget Management
  • CG visualisation and animation
  • Tender documentation & app development


  • Jack Magree
  • Steve Kelliher
  • Simon Andresen
  • Ryan Harper
  • Ricardo Figari
  • Daniel Booker
  • Andrew Beard

Unique mix of passenger-centred transport design & technical know-how

Melbourne is home to the world’s largest tram network, running a fleet of over 450 trams. Whilst moving to new generation vehicles, the bulk of the mixed fleet is still based on rolling stock from the 1970s and 80s as well as some historic 1920s  W-Class trams which are still in regular operational service.

Over the years Cobalt has acted as Yarra Trams’ external design engineering office providing technical and PLM support over multiple projects. Through Cobalt’s unique mix of front-end transport design specialisation and accountable mechanical engineering, we have designed and managed many of the interior elements used by 22,000 commuters and visitors daily.

As above, one of these projects involved upgrading older stock with all new passenger information technologies. To meet an ambitious rollout plan, Cobalt developed a smart conduit system, with injection mouldings interchanges and terminals to allow pre-wired assemblies to be rapidly fitted.

The major linchpin of system; the stanchion cable covers, were designed and prototyped in less than 2 weeks. Following detailed engineering and CAD modelling, our team managed documentation and procurement logistics, creating over 150 new unique parts, 200 technical and assembly drawings and over 600 design reviews.  The success of our smart conduit system meant trams could be fully upgraded overnight leaving passenger services unaffected.  This wasn’t exactly ‘easy,’ given the substantial dimensional and model variations of the fleet.

Other completed projects include

  • Yarra Tram’s unique anchor passenger handle; an idea that not only doubles the number of handholds available to standing passengers, but has also become an iconic signature of the Yarra Tram’s brand and the whole city (as curated by Scienceworks and NGV).
  • Interior arrangements that best balance peak passenger capacity and passenger amenities, minimising stop/dwell times (improved ingress/egress passenger movement) and providing visual and intuitive information systems.
  • Our self-initiated study of what a modern interpretation of the classic W-Class tram might look like: ‘Melba’ preceded the Victorian Government’s tender for new generation trams, and set the context for the work we later undertook for Bombardier; leading to Bombardier manufacturing the new E-Class tram.

Throughout these developments, Cobalt straddles both the passenger-centred and critically important visual design elements of transport systems, as well as the technical engineering, testing and production of these through to implementation onto networks that must simply keep working effectively day in and day out.

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